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Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on But wait, there's More »

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    Here’s a Meter That Really Goes the Distance!

     Friday, July 24th, 2009, Netcast 880


    Back in 2001 Leica (Yes, the camera people) introduced the DISTO Laser Distance Meter. This is a hand-held laser rangefinder that offers fast and easy distance measurements of length, squares and volumes with the press of a button. Forget about messing around with a tape measure and coming up with inaccurate measurements. Worse yet is the problem you encounter when you try to figure out the volume of a room. Not only do you have to add up all those measurements, but many include weird fractions. Yep, it’s no fun. With the Leica DISTO Distance-Meter measurements are so precise and reliable they can measure up to 200 meters with millimeter accuracy. With a press of one button you get your quick laser measurement, and can figure out thing like how much carpeting a room needs, gallons of paint required to cover an area, etc. Although the unit I have is long gone from the marketplace there are much more feature laden models now. You can get info transferred to your Pocket PC or Laptop, via Bluetooth, with the much newer Leica DISTO A6 Bluetooth Laser Rangerfinder. Having that kind of freedom means you can get the job done quicker and much more efficiently Other current models include the DISTO A3, DISTO A5, DISTO A6 Bluetooth, and DISTO A8. All are built to IP54 standards which means these unit are dust-proof and waterproof, essential for construction sites. Leica DISTO Series Range-Finders are very versatile, allowing you to measure indoors, outdoors, and any hard to reach areas. The Leica DISTO A8 3x Digital Viewfinder / Distance Meter has a built-in 3-fold zoom digital viewfinder which enables you to reach long distances (up to 200 meters away) with precision. Eight years ago the original Disto I have was close to $500! They are much more reasonable now. (I've never purchased anything at the website that the links above lead to, but I thought it was a good place for you to read about the various models. Then you can do a further price search.)

    If you have your heart set on owning the model I have, check out EBAY. This description was on EBay early July, 2009: “You are bidding on a used Leica Model 723156 Disto Classic 4 Laser Distance Meter. This item is still in good working condition regardless of the cracks on the screen and 1 of the clips being broken. The cap can be ordered separate or continue using the rubber bands that I throw in for free to hold it in place... ” 

    Maybe it’s still for sale, although that ‘free rubber band’ makes it super attractive!  (Or you can buy mine! Perfect screen, no broken clips! And I'll include a 'stand-by' rubber band!)



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    Inventive New Products from the Energizer Bunny Company.

    Thursday, July 23rd, 2009, Netcast 879


    It’s called The Energi To Go line. Right now it features the Energi To Go Portable Power for Cell Phones, with a different unit for charging iPods. They rely on AA batteries for power to charge devices. But soon the Energi To Go line will be greatly expanded to include rechargeable power packs that use lithium polymer battery technology to power a wide variety of mobile electronic devices including smart and cell phones, iPhone, iPod and MP3 players, GPS units, digital cameras and camcorders, netbooks and laptops. Over 10 new products will be available nationwide within the next month. The one is have is the XP2000 Power Pack. It’s guaranteed to provide any smart phone with a full charge and more. It will give regular cell phones up to 3 full charges! Great for music or game players too! The Power Capacity is: 2000 mAh @5V. It comes fully charged and ready to go and the charge will hold for a year from the manufacture date. The Recharge Time is 3 Hrs. There’s a Smart LED Power Indicator and it’s Energy Star Certified. Compact Hand Held Size: 3.3 (L) x 2.3 (W) x 0.5 (H) Inches. MSRP for XP2000: $39.99. The package Includes: The main unit, charging cable, travel bag and six cell phone tips. But here are a few great things about this new line of Energi To Go chargers. There’s an online guide to help consumers find the right tip for their use with an iPhone, cell phones, Smart phones, Bluetooth, MP3 players, portable DVD players, DS & Gaming systems, digital cameras, digital camcorders, GPS systems, PDAs, netbooks, laptops or e-books. (Yes, they’ll be units in the line powerful enough to charge laptops!) Can’t fit the proper tip? If Energizer doesn’t offer tips to fit any device, they will have it produced at no additional cost! Tips for Life means your device will be able to charge new products that don’t even exist right now! Owners can get two free tips a year for the life of the Energi To Go product! This ensures that as consumers purchase new devices they will have the right tips to charge them. And this is neat! There is a special chip built into all units so consumers can log onto the Energi To Go website and use an online guide to check the remaining charge life of their product. It all sounds good to me!

    This page describes the new line.

   This page is about the XP2000.


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    Hear your favorite MP3 player tunes in the shower – safely.

    Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009, Netcast 878


    So you like to sing in the shower and you like to sing along with the music you have on your iPod or other MP3 player. Taking your music player into the shower is not a good idea because 99% of them should not be exposed to water. A new product solves the problem of hearing your MP3 music in the shower. The SPI Wireless Shower Speakers with Anti-Fog Mirror, FM Radio and LCA Clock (Analog) has a very long name. And it also has some clever features. It lets you enjoy your favorite music from your MP3 player, iPod, or any personal audio device in the shower from up to 30 feet away. It uses an FM transmitter system to broadcast your favorite tunes into the shower speaker from a nice dry spot. The two stereo speakers are small, but they provide decent sound for their size. Hey it’s the shower, not your living room. The splash-proof shower receiver includes FM radio, an LCA (Analog) clock, and a fog-free mirror, perfect for grooming while your grooving. It has a variety of mounting options: suction cups, built-in vanity stand and built-in brackets. You get the main unit and the wireless transmitter with a cable that plugs into your MP3 player’s headphone jack. Between the two wireless units you’ll need 7 AAA batteries, which are not included. I did play with this unit, but not long enough to judge battery life. “List price is $39.95, but it’s widely available for $29.95. This is a reasonable price in my estimation for the features included.


    Company website:


    Bed Bath & Beyond:


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    Another product from Altec Lansing, this time from Leo.

    Tuesday, July 21st, 2009, Netcast 877


    Over the past few weeks I talked about the long discontinued Altec Lansing 704 speaker system, one of the biggest speakers you could buy for the home, and the Altec Lansing Orbit, probably the smallest speaker you can still buy. ( Leo just bought the Altec T612 speaker which is designed especially for use with the Apple iPhone 3G and the iPod. Leo said this speaker system produces very good sound, especially for its size. But what he thought was really great is that iPhone 3G interference is nonexistent. (Evidently you may to put the iPhone in “airplane mode” in some other units to stop it from transmitting interference.) Here’s what happens when the iPhone is playing music while it’s in the dock and a call comes in. The music fades and you hear the ringer sound through the speakers. I can’t remember if Leo said you can use it as a speakerphone and talk with the phone in the dock, but someone else I spoke to said you have to take the iPhone out of the dock to answer the call. (I don’t have an iPhone or this Altec unit.) The music comes back on where it left off when the phone call came in. With 60 watts of power and remote control, this is a full-featured unit. The “list price” is $199.99, but do a web search. I saw it on Amazon for via Electronics Expo for just about $105.00. I’ve never bought anything from this etailer, but the link is below. Overall Leo thinks this is a unit that is well worth the money.


    Altec website page:


    Amazon link:

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    Here’s a third hand to help hold your funnel!

    Monday, July 20th, 2009 Netcast 876


    If you ever had to use a funnel to transfer liquids you know it can be tricky. Sometimes just the liquid hitting the funnel can make it fall to one side or the other causing a spill. On a boat it’s even trickier as wakes and waves rock the boat as you try to pour liquids. A new product called UniFunnel makes it easy to transfer fluids without slipping or spilling. It’s the Uni-Funnel, a hands-free funnel holder designed to hold any standard-size funnel firmly in place. Here’s how it works. Squeeze the Uni-Funnel handle and place it in the container or tank into which you’re going to pour a liquid. When you let go of the handle, a spring opens the Uni-Funnel to hold it securely in place. Now you place your funnel in the holder and start pouring the liquid. It’s secure enough that you can even leave smaller contains in the funnel so they drain completely. I use it to put outboard oil in the below deck tank. It’s perfect for boaters, mechanics, and do-it-yourselfers. Since it can be used to transfer any fluid—including oil, gasoline, coolant and industrial chemicals—the hands-free Uni-Funnel Holder is an very handy tool. It’s made of reinforced glass-filled Polyamide 66—a highly durable composite material frequently used in engine parts, so the Uni-Funnel Holder is virtually unbreakable. It’s bright yellow color makes it hard to lose or leave inside an engine. Another important safety feature is the ability for air to vent, which eliminates the risk of blow back. Users can also more easily monitor the rising fluid level inside the container or tank. Another advantage: With both hands free, people will be able to use two hands to pour bigger or larger, economy-size containers. $12.95 + $2.50 shipping.



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